The grinning stupid authoritarian (GSA) phase

…the founder

When privileged-arch-fascist-climate-denier James Delingpole called his 2009 book Welcome to Obamaland: I Have Seen Your Future and It Doesn’t Work , he was onto something.

The UK had unhappily become the template for the next ten years in the polities of the complacent and morally confused West. All thanks to Tony Blair, and I should add, with the benefits of hindsight and his recent return to prominence, the selfish idiocy of John Major. His determination to continue as a dud Tory PM for a couple of years – despite a thriving economy – gave us the horrors that began in 1997.

So, we got Blair, slowly ruining that economy, along with his hated rival Gordon Brown, and visiting quite astonishing amounts of carnage on various foreign countries in the process. He is sort of reviled now, though he obviously finds it hard to take. Brexit has given him the opportunity that he craves to start lecturing us all again***.

In any event, I would say that Britain had begun to recover from his peculiar brand of smoothness, his labelling of opponents as morally bad people, and his oafish certainty. Theresa May’s dismal reign is essentially a hiatus in that recovery, I hope.

That depressing period is becoming a distant memory of course, as we actually got rid of Blair a whole 11 years ago, and whatever his demerits, his successor Brown was not a grinning authoritarian, and nor was Dave, after 2010.


Obama, a master of the amiable rictus, came in after a cunningly stage managed meteoric rise, in 2008, and exemplified the essential features of the GSA: a messianic view of his own powers and beliefs; the support of a mostly invertebrate and adulatory media; a hatred of  ‘old’ (and generally successful) norms in economics, morality, societal structure; a tendency to reward untalented cronies for fawning; an unthinking obsession with climate change; complacency about the electorate; a counterintuitive tendency to violence and the use of physical authority.

There are no doubt lots of other themes, but they’ll do for now.

The final common pathway of all this is the same – failure.

This failure though is one that only affects the public good, including the economy. The corollary of it is that the GSA will always end up personally enriched. That said, they rarely end up happy. This blog began in 2010 with exactly that observation.

Obama’s failures are many, although his extended media fan club hate to admit it. His irrefutable achievement was being the first African American president. The rest of it – not so much. Obamacare is tottering, he was the master of the multi-casualty drone strike, he destroyed his own party as for eight years it was all about him (another typical feature), the economy stagnated with absurd claims made to disguise failure, the church was targeted, terrorists were routinely appeased, and so on and on and on. Par for the course.


Macron has turned into an ongoing car crash (even as I write) at a quite incredible speed****. Clearly more intelligent and widely educated than both Blair and Obama, he nevertheless has proven to be amazingly out of touch and stupid. His de haut en bas style is ruining both him and France. It’s as if he’s making their mistakes at triple speed, just to catch up. What is funny is that he clearly didn’t see it coming – he thought the template worked. The inherent lack of principle is deliciously emphasised by him folding on his daft fuel tax – either climate changes exists and the proposed actions matter or it doesn’t (spoiler – it doesn’t).

…the new boy

The newest GSA is Leo Varadkar. Poor Ireland, generally badly run by a host of chancers since de Valera threw in the towel, its unique identity has been slowly crushed and subsumed by the secular brutality of the EU superstate. Once it sold its soul by giving in to voting twice on the dreadful Lisbon Treaty, it became a perfect seed bed for a GSA – and Varadkar is an exemplar of the breed. Number one priority was sucking up to EU overlords** – there would be no  prospect of dissent. Number two was going to town on legalising abortion – a far more controversial topic to this day than was ever admitted – which inevitably was joined with lots of church bashing. Number three is kicking Theresa May about, which everyone finds easy these days. It plays to the time honoured anti-English gallery in the Republic, itself a form of ‘toxic nationalism’.

There is no happy ending here. These menaces always cause untold avoidable harm. They bask in the approval of  most of the media and the young, until everyone begins to realise that this maybe isn’t so great after all, by which point lives have been lost, economies ruined, society broken further.

At the moment though, we can always eventually throw the bastards out. Far better would be to spot them in advance and never vote them in, in the first place.



**This terrific Brendan O’Neill piece on Varadkar’s poison came out a couple of days after this blog post. Essential reading

***and Dominic Lawson rips into Blair’s outrageous solipsistic posturing. He refuses to go away, naturally

****here’s Gavin Mortimer on Macron’s extremely rapid fall from grace

Trump v Thanos: prediction time again


Hillary/Barack/MSNBC etc etc

Avengers: Infinity War is not a terrible movie, but nor is it a particularly good one**. The action is chaotic, most of the Avengers are annoying, and by far the best thing in it is Thanos, the crazed Titan. He is absurdly powerful, ruthless, amoral, charismatic yet prone to sentiment and generally he gets what he wants. Everyone is scared of him and sucks up accordingly. His basic schtick is that he will rule everything, forever. It’s his destiny. People will suffer of course, but that’s all justified. It’s the way things have to be.

This sounds familiar.

I watched it on the way to the US recently, which was strangely appropriate. Here’s the parallel: Thanos represents the opposition to Trump, which based on my careful scientific analysis is: 45% various Clintons, 35% the Godking Obama (and toadies like Brennan), 20% most of the media, trailing in the wake of the big two. Trump is, I suppose, the Avengers. The analogy falls down a bit, as however much you may dislike Trump, he’s nowhere near as irritating as Chris Evans playing Captain America, or Mark Ruffalo as the Hulk.

Anyway, more than two years ago, despite numerous claims regarding the November 2016 election that ‘nobody saw this coming‘, the outstanding Salena Zito did. And I did.

Three takeaway quotes from my piece, which was written before Trump even got the nomination:

~ he’ll gain votes from former Democrats who can’t stand Hillary and actually like what Trump says, but they won’t tell pollsters that

~ he will gain more of the black and Hispanic  votes than anyone is predicting at the moment

~ foreign policy will be left to a smart Secretary of State and the military

Feel free to disagree, but they stand up well  in  my view, although I think Trump personally has been pretty canny in foreign policy, aided by a superb team. Apart from my ego, though, why am I writing this? Because the midterm elections are imminent, for all of Congress, some of the Senate and various governorships, and the drums are already beating for the 2020 presidential contest.

My own take from hanging out in California for a while, and talking to lots of people can be easily summarised:

  • affluence is increasing, nearly across the board
  • everyone is pretty happy with this
  • net immigration is still essential for the economy, but there is no reason why this cannot all be through the ordinary legal procedures, ie. there is no reason for illegal immigration other than to increase the potential Democratic Party voter base
  • there is not – apart from in various parts of the media – lots of overt hatred for Trump, nor any huge wish for Hillary. In fact, in all of my travels around San Francisco  – not in the tourist areas – I saw a single solitary faded Hillary flyer (pictured below)
  • Trump’s ‘unexpected’ popularity with ethnic minority voters seems likely to continue, and almost certainly increase

The last point is relevant, given the new evidence – not denied – that Google did its very best to influence Hispanic voters to go for Hillary, yet they failed. Miserably.

I conclude that in 2020 there will be virtually no Trump voters who change sides – barring some unpredictable disaster – yet there will be former Dem voters who do cross over, with their new jobs, higher wages and sense that the country is moving on. Which it is.

The reliance by the Dems, with their overweening sense of entitlement, on the votes of black and Hispanic and voters in perpetuity exactly mirrors Gordon Brown and Labour’s hubristic view of Scotland. Keep ’em poor and reliant on the government. When the hyped up SNP came along, Labour – to use a phrase – didn’t see it coming. The SNP are losing support now, deservedly, given their incompetence, bullying and parochial obsessions, but it took a while. Trump is probably still in the ascent phase.

So I predict Trump with a straightforward win in 2020 – health permitting, assuming no unforeseen calamity. ‘Russian collusion’ won’t finish him, mainly because it doesn’t exist.

As for the midterms, I can’t say. I suspect however that they will also go the Republicans’ way, but they do highlight a strange fact – Trump is a one off, and people will vote for him and continue to loathe their local Republican, so all bets are off for now.

As for Thanos – he always fails in the end, causing immense misery and destruction on the way.

Not a bad analogy for the miserable Dems.

45% of Thanos, approximately


** Most of the related comic books, though, are outstanding (eg. 1, 2)

Appeasement 2018, and DH Lawrence

The insult ‘Hitler’ has been casually tossed around in 21st century politics for years, with each use  provoking the most cringing of faux outrage, and simultaneously  diminishing the power of the comparison. Similarly, the term ‘appeasement’ has been invoked for all sorts of decisions ranging from pragmatic to cowardly, with numerous references to Neville Chamberlain’s deluded performance of 1938.

But while we genuinely seem to be lacking a new Hitler (pace Trump haters), appeasement is indeed on the prowl. Here is DH Lawrence, back in the late 1920’s, pondering the flaccid state of the nation and its so-called intelligentsia between the wars. It is taken from the chapter entitled The End of Old Europe (primarily relating to Hitler’s rise to power), in Paul Johnson’s invaluable Modern Times. Read it, history really does repeat itself.:

They want an outward system of nullity, which they call peace and good will, so that in their own souls they can be independent little gods…little Moral Absolutes, secure from questions….it stinks. It is the will of a louse

Photograph of D.H. Lawrence and Frieda Lawrence in Chapala, Mexico, 1923
Lawrence – prototype hipster?

Harsh words, but remarkably apposite to much of what we see today. So the reason why the Second Amendment is under attack again in the US (ha!), why Israel is criticised for defending its borders (not that I’m supporting excessive force), why the national armed forces are intended to be subsumed into an amorphous inchoate EU force etc, is so that wet middle class people far from the action can “in their own souls…be independent little gods”. That kind of sums up a certain bien pensant leftie to me. The absolute peak of such appeasement in recent times has been the utterly ineffective Iran Deal, created primarily to give Obama (and the hapless John Kerry) some sort of artificial legacy. The ‘will of a louse’ indeed.

To be honest, writing blog posts like this always feels a bit smug and a bit sour – it’s not something that gives you much pleasure – but we live in difficult times, and Lawrence’s quote is just too good to ignore.

It’s probably the best thing he wrote.



Where did it all go wrong? (AKA politics today)

That faintly nauseous feeling engendered by numerous politicians of various tribes, with the high points exemplified by the twin peaks of Blair and Obama in their hubristic primes. Yup, it’s got a name now, which I hadn’t quite twigged before.


It’s one of those bland words/phrases – think liberalism, neconservatism, social justice – which gets knocked about in the media and the political arena, often without people pausing to consider what it means.

Well here’s the ideal definition:

Progressivism was imported from Europe and would result in a radical break from America’s heritage. In fact it is best described as an elitist-driven counterrevolution to the American Revolution, in which the sovereignty of the individual, natural law, natural rights, and the civil society — built on a foundation of thousands of years of enlightened thinking and human experience — would be drastically altered and even abandoned for an ideological agenda broadly characterized as “historical progress.”

Progressivism is the idea of the inevitability of historical progress and the perfectibility of man — and his self-realization — through the national community or collective… progressivism’s emphasis on material egalitarianism and societal engineering, and its insistence on concentrated, centralized administrative rule, lead inescapably to varying degrees of autocratic governance.

Yup, we can all recognise that, whether we like it or not. I’m a ‘not’. It’s the opposite of true democracy, subsidiarity, respect for others, charitable endeavour etc. A surefire way of stifling altruism and enterprise, of crushing freedom of thought and speech. It’s neither specifically Left nor Right. It is a horrible amorphous blob of state control. It has ravaged the UK (especially Scotland), parts of Europe and is trying to take over the USA.

The author of the above is populist (and popular) Jewish intellectual, Mark Levin.

There is a lot of bullshit about when it comes to describing ideologies, political philosophy, the roles of the state and the individual, all that stuff – but I reckon the above description is a keeper. It always helps to know your enemy.

Stalin poses ad demagod WW2 Propaganda Poster
Raise your hand if you support progressivism!




BOzymandias, the nuns and the NHS

It even looks a bit like him…

You don’t have to be religious to enjoy the victory of the Little Sisters of the Poor yesterday, although it helps.


The media yesterday, in the UK and to an extent in the US, hugely downplayed Trump’s passage of an Obamacare replacement through Congress, even though there are still a few challenges ahead.  The Guardian, as one example, bafflingly are using the picture on the right as their main US headline, at the time of me writing this. We know you don’t like him guys, but was that really the main news event?

Two things happened: the Obamacare replacement already mentioned, the lack of which was being gleefully touted until about two days ago by people who should know better, as an emblem of Trump’s abject failures. The second is Trump’s executive order on religious freedom, which led to the press conference which is shown below. As Trump said, and it’s hard to claim he’s wrong: “I will get rid of and totally destroy the Johnson amendment and allow our representatives of faith to speak freely and without fear of retribution”. (Read this for more background).

There were parts of Obamacare that were good in theory, although the victims of the private insurance/Medicare/Medicaid situation that preceded it were primarily the middle classes rather than the poor and indigent. It was the middle classes who didn’t qualify for state aid who were hammered financially. However, Obamacare was always a rotten business model, and that’s all it was. It wasn’t healthcare – that’s provided by clinicians – and it wasn’t even insurance, as there was not enough ‘this might not happen’ element to it, which is the essence of house, car, health, dog insurance, whatever. If the new bill includes adequate coverage for pre-existing conditions, it will be better. Obamacare had had it anyway, even before yesterday’s news.

Perhaps Obama should have been more open about it, and gone for a US NHS, funded from taxation. I’m a big fan of the NHS. I have worked in it for more than 30 years, I don’t do private work, but it is desperately in need of reform. It has suffered terribly from technological advances, in a financial sense – and they’re far from being all good clinically – but also from mission creep, much of it led by the dreaded Public Health cabal and various politicians after an easy boost. It is far from Nye Bevan’s original vision. In a very perceptive Standpoint article on all this, John Torode wrote:

…however much the rest of the world allegedly envied our brave new health service, not one nation of any significance turned envy into action. Pretty well every advanced liberal democracy, from Germany to Israel, from France to the Scandinavian nations, chose fundamentally different models of health provision…..some problems are common to all health services. We live longer and need more, and more expensive, attention for chronic conditions in our old age. Medical science and technology have grown ever more complex and costly. But our rigid, unresponsive, centralised system, designed by state-socialists and run by bureaucrats, serves neither patients nor practitioners. It merely exacerbates the difficulties.

A working Glasgow GP, Margaret McCartney, wrote a great piece on the very real problem, both ethical and financial, of modern healthcare pursuing life at all costs:

Death is inevitable, but frequently seen as an inadequacy in medicine or treatment. Harpal Kumar, the chief executive of Cancer Research UK, said on the radio recently that his aim was to ensure that no one died of cancer any more. But we are still going to die, so what are we to die of? Is every death to be fought back with all of medicine’s might, and to be always considered its failure?

Well worth reading it all, but I digress. Back to BO and the nuns, where it just so happens that healthcare was the field on which he chose to fight. I wrote a blog 5 years ago  that predicted Obama’s demise on this. He picked on the wrong people, and he did it in a stupid and vindictive way.  He may have won his two elections for reasons that are many and varied – not particularly about good governance though – but his signature legislation is now dead. I had a Ford Fiesta that lasted longer than Obamacare. And he completely deserves the humiliation that it brings. Even his buddies in the Washington Post were aghast:

Both radicalism and maliciousness are at work in Obama’s decision — an edict delivered with a sneer. It is the most transparently anti-Catholic maneuver by the federal government since the Blaine Amendment was proposed in 1875 — a measure designed to diminish public tolerance of Romanism, then regarded as foreign, authoritarian and illiberal. Modern liberalism has progressed to the point of adopting the attitudes and methods of 19th-century Republican nativists….Obama is claiming the executive authority to determine which missions of believers are religious and which are not — and then to aggressively regulate institutions the government declares to be secular. It is a view of religious liberty so narrow and privatized that it barely covers the space between a believer’s ears.

Hence the title of this post. Take it away Percy Bysshe Shelley…

I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal, these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare

The lone and level sands stretch far away.”


 and that video. “Incredible nuns…”


Obama and the groves of academe

You might reasonably categorise this as a trivial semantic moan (it is), but it’s been bugging me, so I will indulge myself. Here’s the problem: too often the adjectives academic and cerebral are deployed on people who lack much in the way of proof of these qualities. They have become a sort of shorthand for enigmatic and socially refined. The number one candidate, inevitably, is Obama, much of it centred around the nature of his emerging post-presidential career. I would imagine golf and money making will figure highly in reality, and good for him. It’s his gushing fanboys who misuse the terms.

Like most medics, I have had a fair bit of exposure to academia, and after the awakening of A-levels it hasn’t been too great a stretch in truth. One acquires degrees and diplomas in the course of things. Teaching isn’t tough, but being a really good teacher is. Higher degrees such as doctorates, and peer-reviewed quality research are a different matter. These things are very challenging and require a great deal of thinking, time, struggle, disappointment etc. I do alright with publications, but I have no MD or PhD and I admire anyone who has. I spent 6 years primarily employed by a medical school (though most of what I did was clinical, for the NHS). Genuine, productive, relevant academic activity is hard. You don’t wander into it, perform amazingly for a bit and wander off again.

So please don’t bandy such terms around unless you want to devalue them, as MENSA has achieved with IQ.  Here’s an example from Twitter. I was unnecessarily rude to @iainmartin1, whom I generally like and admire, as he kept putting superficial anti-Trump rants into the usually excellent Reaction (it wasn’t about defending Trump, it was the lack of any balance or attempt at understanding to which I was reacting).


This is not, I repeat, specifically about Trump v Obama. My point is that it is very easy to assume the mantle of the sophisticated intellectual, whose mind is occupied by lofty thought, often in comparison to the low-minded alternatives who lack this visionary capability. It has an exact comparison in the NHS: people who claim to be ‘strategic, not operational’. The latter is tough, and is demonstrated by tangible results, the former tends to be associated with promises of a golden future and not much more. The classic visionary who caused colossal amounts of trouble was of course Tony Blair.

A similar situation arose with the ludicrous idea that had Hillary won, Obama could himself replace Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, hence gushing articles like this. Again, it is all about how ‘impressive’ ‘mature’ and ‘curious’ he is. Not about cases fought, heard, won, papers published, previous experience at the highest levels of the law – basically just what a dude he is. This sort of crap patronises everyone, including Obama.

Interestingly, if you take Iain’s point about Obama’s early career and mode of thinking (the latter phrase is a bit of a copout too), it’s not as glittering as you might have been lead to believe. Did he actually write his books personally? Do people usually get to the end of them? Are they any good? Neither is ‘academic’ as such.

If you do a Google Scholar search, there’s plenty of boilerplate almost certainly written by speechwriters and team members rather than BO himself. There is not really much else. Despite the hype around it, this piece in JAMA – and almost certainly not written by BO  – is not an academic paper at all. This, from 1990, is an adequate local magazine article, nothing more. Here is a fascinating if slightly bitchy analysis, by Jack Cashill, of the great man’s writing style and his output, it’s worth reading. Following on from that is a typically witty piece from a truly great prose writer, Bob Tyrrell, further deconstructing the whole Obama intellectual/reader schtick.

If you were wondering about his speeches, given his intermittently justified reputation as an orator (try this), well…they don’t read quite as well as they did in his Golden Era. I quote from Matthew Walther’s book review, starting with a strikingly Blairesque paragraph that also calls to mind a tedious NHS management workshop:

(we) are forever being asked with a steady, cloying, increasingly oppressive optimism to “rise to this moment,” to “have passion” and “a strategy,” to aspire to “a sense of purpose,” to “feel” things like “urgency” and “hopefulness,” to participate in “a conversation worth having,” to “summon a new spirit,” to remind ourselves that “change happens”—as if believing things or wanting to do them, considered in the abstract and putting aside the question of what exactly those things are, were a virtue


Its editors, E.J. Dionne and Joy-Ann Reid, set up our expectations very early—on the book’s first full page, in fact—when, after having compared him to Lincoln and FDR, they quote Obama responding to a compliment from Harry Reid, who had called one of his speeches “phenomenal.”

“I have a gift, Harry,” Obama replied.

Maybe, but I don’t think it’s particularly to do with speeches, writing and thinking.

Obama Speaks To Press After His Daily Economic Briefing
Spontaneous oratory in action

Obama and the Book of Judges

When the famed English wit (I suppose) James Delingpole wrote his meisterwerkWelcome to Obamaland: I’ve Seen Your Future, and it Doesn’t Work, he couldn’t have quite realised how accurate he would be in his lucid comparison of Blair and Obama. Set aside the vanity, the glib speechifying,  the certainty in one’s own views irrespective of the evidence, the spendthrift economy and the foreign policy disasters. The extraordinary feature of both men is their remarkable electoral popularity, and the almost criminal lack of lasting benefit accrued to the voters who put them up there. 

The upshot of all this is both men have almost no substantial positive legacy. I know a lot has been claimed, but I mean real achievements for world peace, national infrastructure, the economy, employment – all that tiresome stuff that actually matters.

I lost my residual affection or respect for Obama back in 2012, when his vindictive nun bullying began on the back of the now doomed Obamacare requirements. A year later when he was doubling down on the Catholics. I wrote then .... Obama may stagger through the next three years, working on his scorched earth tactics . That three years will almost certainly be a mess on numerous levels. Whatever the polls say, I very much doubt that Hillary Clinton will be the next president. I also quoted Peggy Noonan on his aggressive stance to the Church: There was nothing for the president to gain, except, perhaps, the pleasure of making a great church bow to him. Enjoy it while you can. You have awakened a sleeping giant.

Looks like this last 6 weeks’ results have been a few years in the making. Some of it recalls Harold Macmillan’s (or was it Baldwin?) quotation: “There are three bodies no sensible man directly challenges: the Roman Catholic Church, the Brigade of Guards and the National Union of Mineworkers”.

Anyway, the long and short of all this is to ask the question: what is his true legacy? To which I would identify three areas. The first black president, agreed. Secondly, in policy terms the facts are very clear. Try Victor Davis Hanson’s detailed and sharp analysis, judged by Barack’s own criteria. Pretty painful.

The third category is a more existential one. Just as Tony Blair roams the world seeking a role and a little respect, like the Wandering Jew observed through the prism of the Love Actually zeitgeist, so might Obama end up just a little bit lost. This is the theme of a quite magnificent bit of writing by a Philadelphia lawyer – not a professional journalist – Martin Karo over at Powerline:

He will drive (well, be driven) a few scant miles to a house in the Kalorama neighborhood of Washington, where he can watch at close range as his legacy is revealed not to be one. From his front-row seat, he will watch his eponymous healthcare plan be gutted, watch his foreign policy be repudiated, watch his bureaucratic overreaches be reeled in (please God!), watch conservative judges take the bench, watch his immigration policy melt, watch the military cheer his successor as they never cheered him, watch infrastructure funds build highways and bridges (that will not be named after him) instead of disappearing into the pockets of government union members, watch the American energy revival kick into high gear.

As he watches all this, one wonders whether Obama will appreciate the curious posture he has imposed on the Democratic Party. It is too much to expect Obama to blame himself for the decline in the Party’s presence, at every level of government; but unless he is delusional, he must at least see it.

But there’s more:

The other curious thing about Obama’s remaining on the scene is that he has no visible friends on it, despite his dominance of his party. He has many toadies. He has his entourage. He even has many sincere admirers. But friends? Name three. Name one….

….Obama is staying in Washington for two reasons: because he doesn’t truly have friends elsewhere, or any other place he considers home; and because if he doesn’t stay in DC he descends into obscurity. The latter is a struggle he is likely to lose anyway; if ever there were a personality suited to dominate the stage and put his predecessor in the shade, it is Trump.

I have no idea who Obama’s real buddies are (if any), but it’s a compelling picture that Karo paints. He draws two comparisons (not Blair this time): Richard Nixon and Milton’s Samson Agonistes. You probably do have to be a little remote, a little different, to achieve the highest office, and I have no issue with that, but to ultimately achieve so little of substance is tragic.

Samson of course brought the roof of the mighty temple building down with his residual strength, killing himself and the elite of the Philistine tribe by whom he’d been captured.

Not a bad parallel.

The Democratic Party at the end of 2016

Poetry corner: Barack Obama, an appreciation

So farewell then Barack Obama

You were the first black president, which counts for a lot, but

You cynically divided the country

Demonised folk and bullied nuns

And wrecked your own party,

Whilst playing golf, hugely enjoying yourself

And talking a load of rubbish

You were smart to know when the game was up, but

We all know it should have been a lot better

It was good while it lasted, lads

American Caesar, sort of

What Trump managed was, unquestionably, the greatest upset in American political history, and arguably, the greatest electoral upset in the history of the modern world.

…thus wrote Scott McKay in today’s American Spectator. He goes on to add:

Hillary Clinton lost this race more than Trump won it. Which is not a disparagement of Trump’s upset; if nothing else, his late surge came from an excellent display of political discipline in largely refraining from any controversial words or deeds once Clinton’s legal troubles began multiplying 10 days out from Election Day — that restraint allowed her to lose the race and made him President of the United States.

Because what happened on Election Night was that the national gag reflex manifested itself. And the Democrats’ attempts at forcing down a charmless Alinskyite grifter under multiple FBI investigations ran afoul of that reflex. She found herself the victim of a massive laryngeal spasm on the part of the electorate.

Well, maybe Scott. Certainly the ‘anyone-but-Hillary’ force was strong, but….was it really  that great an upset, really so unpredictable? To quote black talk show host Larry Elder: I Hate to Say I Told You So – Actually, I Really Don’t Mind. Back in March I wrote this blog post, before Trump even got the nomination. I should add that then and now I don’t see Trump as a good or great man, though he now has a huge chance to show such qualities, but rather, I thought I was being realistic. All this amazement from pollsters and the media getting it wrong really does show how little they live in the real world. The one British hack who completely gets this is a lefty – the estimable John Harris of the Guardian.

I revisited it 5 months later, by which point Trump had the nomination, but very little true support from within the Republican party. At that time I quoted a member of my own family: I’m stunned to think that anyone can consider a racist dishonest misogynistic hateful, despicable human as Trump as suitable over any other candidate. I agree Hillary leaves a lot to be desired but for sheer evil Trump outstrips her every step of the way.

You would think that after Brexit people might start to question the received wisdom of the media/Establishment, if only to save a little face. Impeccably liberal Maureen Dowd of the humiliated New York Times gives an interesting and fair minded take of her own family’s split on the topic here.

Anyway, in the spirit of closing the loop (as those of us involved in clinical audit like to say), here are the specific predictions in the 8 month old blog revisited:

  1. Trump will be the Republican candidate, without a brokered convention

Yup, that was actually very straightforward

2. The party will rally round him with a few unimportant exceptions

A grudging pass, he eventually got the basically sound Paul Ryan onside. Party chief Reince Priebus got on the Trump bus fairly early – a wise move

3.  He will rapidly and overtly assemble a team of big hitters — few people will turn him down

Well, Pence was an inspired VP choice for folk who found Trump a bit too wild. Giuliani was solid. Steve Bannon and Kellyanne Conway were brilliant choices for the big run in. Trump is either very lucky or a good judge of people.

4. He will win the election


5. That will primarily be because he’ll gain votes from former Democrats who can’t stand Hillary and actually like what Trump says, but they won’t tell pollsters that

Tick! Look at the electoral map – even California gets in on the change. As for the neglected rustbelt, disdained by Obama and his toadies…


6. A negligible number of Republican voters will defect, or abstain

Tick! Well the turnout was around 56%, and the lowish figure is thought to be mainly disaffected Democrats (according to Vox)

7.  He will gain more of the black and Hispanic  votes than anyone is predicting at the moment (read the original post for some interesting detail on this)

Tick! The numbers aren’t huge, but he didn’t need a huge swing. It was a genuine shift to Trump. Ask NBC:

Most surprisingly, official exit polls show Trump won 29 percent of the Latino vote; Romney had won 27 percent in 2012…As with Latinos, black men voted for Trump in higher numbers than their female counterparts, at 13 percent compared to 4 percent of black women.

8. He will be far more cautious and pragmatic in office than current rhetoric suggests – he will listen to advisers

Well he certainly listened during the campaign, especially latterly – the relaxed, discursive confident Trump in the late rallies

9. Sadly,there will not be a mass exodus of pathetic celebrities from the US – the Paul O’Grady rule will apply

I’m still hoping on this, but there’s at least 23 to choose from, albeit I’ve not heard of lots of them, so ‘celebrity’ might be pushing it. It should be easy enough to spot if Barbra Steisand has actually upped sticks. Apparently Canada don’t want most of them

10. Economically he will avoid the threatened trade war, but send out a few protectionist messages

He’s a pragmatic businessman who will have to do something to support the US worker. It might be bumpy, but US power – and the ubiquitous dollar – is great enough for him to manage it. The UK will do well with Trump.

11. Foreign policy will be left to a smart Secretary of State and the military

Well, war is sometimes necessary, and I take the view that difficult though it may be, the West will have to play a significant part in destroying ISIS. Heraclitus would concur, I think. Trump may not be squeaky clean on Iraq – like many people who suspected it was a bad idea, he vacillated a bit. There is no evidence at all that he would be a gung-ho neocon or Hillary style Libyan interventionist. As for this weird Dem obsession with hating Putin/Russia above everyone else, I know he’s a bad guy, but he is against some of the worst people. Try Rod Liddle on this.

12. I’ve no idea what he’ll do in reality re immigration

Though Ann Coulter has

I think I did alright with the predictions so far. Even if it goes a bit pear-shaped (but nowhere near as bad as Barack has managed), at least we have the late John von Kannon‘s wise advice:

“If you can’t have good government, at least have entertaining government.”

Hmm, maybe not after all

Great Landscapes: Karl Friedrich Lessing

The Knife is a sucker for German romantic art. Caspar David Friedrich, Schinkel, Moritz von Schwind, Carl Spitzweg etc, the shrine of this style is probably the Berlin Alte Nationalgallerie, which is housed in a beautiful building, and is perfectly laid out. Worth a visit.

For some reason, Karl Friedrich Lessing had passed me by. Some of this genre is undoubtedly a bit cheesy, and veers off into symbolism, and in the opposite direction, sentimentality. However, Lessing had the technical gifts, and a finely tuned sensibility towards that prereformation Europe of castles and religion that my generation used to see in  children’s storybooks. This sort of taste is something of a nostalgia trip, therefore, but beyond that there is a mystical element of a ‘golden era’ hanging over his works, at least in my brain. Here are three gems, the last of which is the most famous, and perhaps not, strictly speaking, a landscape. In an era when the Crusades are routinely misreported by everyone from Barack Obama down, it’s nice to see such a beautiful evocation of what, perhaps, they were really like.

 Romantische Landschaft mit Klosteranlage , 1834. Came up for auction not long ago
Romantische Landschaft mit Klosteranlage , 1834. Came up for auction in 2011, went for $88,614. A bargain.
Klosterhof im Schnee, 1828. Wallraf-Richartz-Museum & Fondation Corboud
Klosterhof im Schnee, 1828. Wallraf-Richartz-Museum & Fondation Corboud


The return of the Crusader, 1835. Rheinisches Landesmuseum Bonn
Heimkehrender Kreuzritter, 1835. Rheinisches Landesmuseum Bonn